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Uncertainty Traps

  • Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel

    (University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School)

  • Edouard Schaal

    (New York University)

  • Pablo Fajgelbaum

    (UCLA)

We develop a quantitative theory of endogenous uncertainty and business cycles. In the model, higher uncertainty about fundamentals discourages investment but agents can learn from the actions of others. Therefore, in times of low activity information flows slowly and uncertainty stays high, further discouraging investment. This creates room for uncertainty traps -- self-reinforcing episodes of high uncertainty and low activity. We characterize conditions that give rise to uncertainty traps. Negative shocks to average productivity or beliefs may have permanent effects on the level of activity through the persistence of uncertainty. We also characterize optimal policy interventions. The socially efficient allocation can be implemented with aggregate-beliefs dependent subsidies, but under certain conditions it necessarily features uncertainty traps. We embed these forces into a standard quantitative model of the business cycle to evaluate the impact of uncertainty traps.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2013 Meeting Papers with number 677.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:677
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  1. Gourio, Francois & Kashyap, Anil K, 2007. "Investment spikes: New facts and a general equilibrium exploration," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(Supplemen), pages 1-22, September.
  2. Ruediger Bachmann & Christian Bayer, 2009. "Firm-Specific Productivity Risk over the Business Cycle: Facts and Aggregate Implications," CESifo Working Paper Series 2844, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Sylvain Leduc & Zheng Liu, 2012. "Uncertainty shocks are aggregate demand shocks," Working Paper Series 2012-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  4. Pablo N D’Erasmo & Hernan J Moscoso-Boedo, 2011. "Intangibles and Endogenous Firm Volatility over the Business Cycle," Virginia Economics Online Papers 400, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  5. Ruediger Bachmann & Steffen Elstner & Eric R. Sims, 2010. "Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data," NBER Working Papers 16143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ruediger Bachmann & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2011. "Business Cycles and Endogenous Uncertainty," 2011 Meeting Papers 36, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Frankel, David M. & Pauzner, Ady, 2000. "Resolving Indeterminacy in Dynamic Settings: The Role of Shocks," Staff General Research Papers 11924, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  8. Christophe Chamley, 1999. "Coordinating Regime Switches," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 869-905, August.
  9. Gale, D. & Chamley, C., 1992. "Information Revelation and Strategic Delay in a Model of Investment," Papers 10, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  10. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John V, 1993. "Sectoral Shocks, Learning, and Aggregate Fluctuations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 777-94, October.
  11. George-Marios Angeletos & Christian Hellwig & Alessandro Pavan, 2007. "Dynamic Global Games of Regime Change: Learning, Multiplicity, and the Timing of Attacks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(3), pages 711-756, 05.
  12. Greg Kaplan & Guido Menzio, 2012. "Shopping Externalities and Self-Fulfilling Unemployment Fluctuations," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-048, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  13. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
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